Though her father, Suniel Shetty, has acted in numerous films, Athiya Shetty says Bollywood was “totally new” to her when she debuted in Hero (2015), as she didn’t frequent the sets of her dad’s films.
“I never knew anything about Bollywood before I signed Hero. I didn’t have any connection with movies except for the fact that my father was an actor. I never went on the sets with him, so everything was new for me. I had an amazing experience and received a lot of love. As time unfolds, I will be able to understand more about myself and the industry. It is a learning process for me.”
The actor says that her perception of the industry changed soon after she started working and she feels “happiest on the set”. Athiya says, “I remember that after my first shot, I told my parents that I want to do this for the rest of my life. I hope I have the opportunity to do that. I felt extremely grateful. I am very critical about myself, so, I feel there is a long way to go before I feel like I have achieved something. I have seen my father and his journey and how he got his first film. That was a sense of achievement for him. I didn’t get the chance [to be an actor] on a golden platter, but I won’t be naïve and say us [star kids] don’t have it easy. I feel blessed that I have the opportunities.”
Although Hero wasn’t received as well as expected, the young actor says she “wouldn’t change anything about it”. Looking back, she says that she was “upset but not too upset”. “I guess I understood that it was part and parcel of life and the industry. The whole team works hard to make the product, but it doesn’t work sometimes. One learns from such experiences.”
Athiya is now looking forward to working with Arjun Kapoor and Anil Kapoor in her next film, Mubarakan. Ask her if she has known Anil over the years and she says, “I don’t have a personal equation with him. I have known of him, but didn’t ‘know’ him. He was warm and encouraging during Hero. Working with seniors like Anil sir and Anees sir (Bazmee, director) will challenge and help me learn a lot. I have heard amazing things about Anil sir. I have seen how dedicated he is as a professional. He still gives everyone a run for their money and is so energetic. Even today, after years of being in the industry, he is eager to learn, which is inspiring.”
Athiya has often been compared to Sonam Kapoor due to her fashion sense. Is she friends with her? “I am not friends with anyone in the industry, as I haven’t grown up around them. But I know people in the industry. Sonam has created a name for herself and is an amazing person,” says Athiya.